Working in Sao Paulo

working in Sao PauloSao Paulo is often cited as being the growth locomotive of Brazil and has a GDP of billions of dollars. Expats planning on working in Sao Paulo should prepare for tough competition for jobs, and those looking for a job in the city will need to have sought-after skills and experience to make them stand out from other applicants.

As a result of the global economic downturn and the impact of job cuts in North America and Europe, increasing numbers of young and highly educated professionals are looking to Brazil for promising new job opportunities. Furthermore, businesses are also seeing investment opportunities in Sao Paulo, which is well-placed when it comes to serving the South American markets, and choosing the city as the location for the establishment of new offices.

Job market in Sao Paulo

Traditionally, Sao Paulo’s economy was based on industry but over the years there has been a shift towards the service sector. The majority of people working in Sao Paulo are employed in the service, finance and technology sectors.

Multinational companies with branches or headquarters in Sao Paulo include Volkswagen, Shell, General Motors, Walmart, Carrefour, Nestle, Unilever, Google, Nokia and HSBC. Many expats working at these multinational companies are transferred to Sao Paulo from their home countries.

Finding a job in Sao Paulo

Increasing numbers of expats are lured to Sao Paulo because of its diverse economy and the exciting job opportunities the city promises. However, many end up returning home disappointed and disillusioned by the realities of the Sao Paulo job market. Unless expats are highly skilled or are transferred to Sao Paulo from their company’s offices abroad, job opportunities for foreigners are not always easy to come by.

Expats with sought-after skills in fields such as engineering, IT and international finance are the most likely to be successful in finding a job in Sao Paulo. While the ability to speak Portuguese is not always necessary, some knowledge of the local language will certainly improve an expat's chances of being hired, so learning Portuguese should be a priority for anyone moving to Sao Paulo to work.

Large numbers of expats who struggle to find work in their original field try teaching English as a way of earning money. However, salaries for English teachers in Sao Paulo are low and these types of jobs are best suited for younger expats who are travelling through South America or spending their gap year in Brazil, rather than those looking to establish a career or settle down in Sao Paulo in the long term.

Regardless of what type of job offer an expat takes up in Sao Paulo, it is essential that all foreigners are in possession of the correct work permit for Brazil.

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